A French queer film produced, written and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, based on the original 2010 French graphic novel with the same name by Julie Maroh. Released in 2013, the same year in which same-sex marriage became legal in France, making it one of the most controversial films of the year. This film won the Palme d’Or from the official jury and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The film was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Film not in the English Language.
“He’s not the problem. I’m missing something. I’m all messed up. I’m crazy.”
The film revolves around the sexual awakening of Adele, a 15 year-old high school student, and a love affair with Emma, an older art student. Adele begins to explore herself as woman at a very young age. She begins to hear her classmates talk constantly about boys so she forms a relationship with a classmate from school with whom she ends up having sex. After having sex with her significant other she discovers no sexual satisfaction with him at all. She continues her daily schedule like always until one day while crossing the street Adele’s eyes catch a blue-haired woman (Emma) which captivated her and made her start having sexual dreams with her. Later on they meet each other at a lesbian bar where emma went after leaving a gay bar where her friend Valentin had taken her. After Emma interviens due to other woman trying to pursue Adele she begins to talk to her and finds out that Emma is a much older graduating art student. They become close friends and begin to spend more and more time with each other making Adeles friends from school suspicious and makes them think that she is in a lesbian relationship with the “blue haired woman”. Ignoring her friends comments and ridicule Adele continues to talk to Emma and begins to get to know her more and more until eventually one day during a picnic they kiss for the first time. They begin to have a more romantic relationship and eventually have sex for the first time. They begin to live together and the years pass before they begin to realise how little they truly have in common. Emma begins to grow emotionally and physically distant to Adele making it impossible for the two to live at ease and eventually Emma decides to kick Adele out of the apartment leaving Adele devastated and heart broken. Time passes and eventually Adele and Emma meet up again in a restaurant, Adele still in love with Emma continues to feel the strong connection that they have with each other but finds out that Emma has not only moved on but is in a committed relationship with a woman by the name of Lise whom they had both meet before in a party they had hosted not to long before they split up. At the end of the film Adele visits an art show that is exhibiting Emmas work and not so coincidentally runs into Emma. They begin to talk but the conversation remains brief due to the fact that Emma is much more focused on the art show than on the conversation with Adele. Eventually they both part ways and continue on with their lives which concludes the romantic relationship that neither Adele nor Emma will ever forget.
Lesbian Sexuality is one of the strongest themes in the film, starting from Adele exploring her sexual identity, to discovering her sexual desire through Emma. In the beginning of the story we see Adele following the crowd of her classmates and begins to engage in a heterosexual relationship with one of her male classmates but after the realization that she was not feeling fulfilled sexually with a man she begins to get involved romantically with “the blue haired girl” named Emma. The ten-minute sexual scene between the two teenagers demonstrated that Adele was clearly not feeling the same emotions or satisfaction with the male classmate as she was feeling when she became sexually involved with Emma.
“I miss you. I miss not touching each other. Not seeing each other, not breathing in each other. I want you. All the time. No one else.”
As Sue Katz said on Smash Phallic Imperialism “Lesbianism is not a sexual perversion: it has nothing to do with sex. It is not another way to “do it”: it is a whole other way to have contact” Adele discovered in Emma more than just sex, rather she found another way to have contact, something she couldn’t find with anybody else. A different quote from the same reading, “Lesbian sensuality is a form which I myself am helping create. It is not an institution existing outside of me, like sex is. It is me, us, as it comes out of our new consciousness.” This quote is also relevant to the film because Adele had to discover her sexual preference through this long journey and she had to do it alone by her truly getting to know herself and what she truly prefers as a woman unlike how many others simply follow the institution that is sex and continue to engage in these heterosexual relationships that they may not even like. Both women and men go through their lives constantly struggling to find what they prefer sexually, for some it may take the first sight of a man or a woman that may convince them that they are lesbian or gay, but for others like in the case of Adele it may take some time to discover who you really are and what you really want.